TRR file photo

An act of God in Honesdale

HONESDALE, PA — A makeshift covering, plywood or cardboard, fills the space in borough hall where once there was a window pane. Much of the June 11 Honesdale Borough Council meeting was devoted to the time, cost and effort of cleanup following the May 15 thunderstorm and tornadoes.

Although all speakers during the meeting’s public comment segment praised Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Rich Doney and his crew for their thorough and tireless cleanup of the borough’s streets, parks  and public spaces, Doney admits that the job is far from over, window replacement being the least of it. The DPW garage was severely compromised, a good portion of its roof eliminated by tree damage. Doney said all equipment stored beneath the missing portion has been moved to the other side of the building for protection from the elements, but the building’s structural integrity is now in question.

The considerable tree damage in the borough’s parks was quickly cleared, a significant feat, apparently accomplished without use of the borough’s former chipper, which would have come in handy. But the cemetery is another story. While insurance will cover the borough hall window replacement and the DPW garage repairs, the “act of God” clause used by insurers as a disclaimer in real property damage waivers will put the burden of cemetery cleanup cost on the property owner(s). Doney said there was no damage to headstones, but common areas experienced considerable tree damage.

James Jennings thanked the Honesdale Jaycees for replanting Triangle Park trees lost to the storm and said thanks were also due to the many anonymous citizens who donated their time, labor and equipment to storm cleanup and repair.

Despite working around the clock to clear and repair storm damage to borough property, Doney estimates that he is now about two weeks behind in spring pool maintenance. And with the pool’s 2018 grand opening scheduled for June 25, that’s problematic. Parks and Recreation chair James Jennings said pool staff has been hired and operating hours set. The pool will be open to the public every day from 1 to 6:30 p.m. There will be student nights and senior nights, as well as swimming lessons. The borough pool is open to all, not just borough residents. For more information, see https://bit.ly/2sPrXzE.

The Honesdale Police Department will be getting a new phone system. The voice mail feature of the current system is defective, resulting in messages that end up in the Twilight Zone, forever irretrievable. The council unanimously approved the $3,800 cost of system replacement anticipated in the 2018 budget.

Following departure of a citizen who had delivered an emotional 20-minute rant during public comment, council member Travis Rivera asked Augello if the council were obliged to listen to citizens who threaten them with litigation, verbal or physical abuse. Augello said he’d learned by experience that it’s better to let people vent in this public forum than in another, like social media, the court system, or letter to the editor. Solicitor Rich Henry said there is a limit to what the council must endure while guaranteeing the public its First Amendment rights. He said the president could curtail a citizen’s comment whenever it became abusive or threatening. But Rivera suggested a five-minute time limit should be placed on each citizen’s comment.

 

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